Life continues to be consumed by local sports writing for me. And I absolutely love that I’m able to make a living doing something I’m passionate about.
But during those moments not spent in a sports state of mind, I’m usually running around with my family, digging through my music collection or attending some sort of live event.
That’s where a new podcast collaboration with Joel Martinez comes into play. We’ll be talking about those sorts of things on a weekly basis beginning in January.
Until then, enjoy the debut episode of Mass Chatter. You’ll be introduced to us through the highs and lows we’ve experienced over the years during the holiday season. The episode features stories about a home-made haunted house, backyard football, and a Christmas tree left in the front lawn.
SANFORD, Fla. – When it comes to sports in Brazil there’s no bigger name in soccer than Ricardo Kaká and no bigger basketball icon than Oscar Schmidt.
On Tuesday at the Orlando City Soccer Club’s training facility the two friends took a moment to chat while Schmidt was in town with family just as Kaká was preparing to head out for a U.S. Open Cup match in Chicago.
Kaká presented the Naismith Memorial Basketball and FIBA hall of famer with a personalized No. 14 OCSC jersey before the two shared stories of how they met many years ago.
“I think it’s very possible that we’ll see players that are out West coming to the Eastern Conference, or free agents that are in the Eastern Conference staying out East, because players understand that the Western Conference is brutal right now. It’s hard to make a Finals run. You can be on a loaded team in the West and still miss the playoffs,” Kennedy said.
Waynes and Gordon starred on opposite sides of the ball at Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wis., home of Heisman Trophy winner Alan Ameche of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and former NBA All Star Nick Van Exel.
The Big Ten rivals are the first set of high school teammates to earn such a distinction since Texas cornerback Bryant Westbrook was drafted No. 5 overall by the Detroit Lions and Nebraska cornerback Michael Booker went No. 11 overall to the Atlanta Falcons. Westbrook and Booker played together at El Camino High School in Oceanside, Calif.
WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – The No. 1 high school baseball team in the nation fell from the ranks of the unbeaten Friday as Orlando Olympia was crushed 8-4 by Apopka in the Class 8A, District 3 title game.
The loss means the Titans (25-1-1) go on the road in the opening round of the region playoffs. Apopka, which lost two games to Olympia each by 2-0 margins, starts the postseason at home with a potential rematch looming in the second round.
Olympia went 29-0 in 2012 before losing in the region championship game.
On Friday Apopka right-hander Nick Barber pieced together an impressive game on the mound until Olympia began rallying in the final inning while down 8-1. A double by Kirk Sidwell, single by Drenis Ozuna and 2-RBI triple by Juan Hillman was not enough though as Barber finished with eight strikeouts against six hits.
The No. 1 Titans became just the second team in Central Florida history to make it through the regular season without a blemish on its record. But it’s an elusive trip to the state final four that would be most satisfying as playoff qualifiers get underway this week.
The Titans face Ocoee on Wednesday in their Class 8A, District 3 opener, just four days after local rival Dr. Phillips had their backs against the wall late in the season finale.
Olympia scored seven runs in the final three innings to win 9-5 (in eight innings) and improve to 100-12-1 since 2012, which happens to be the last time Olympia went unbeaten before losing in the region title game to finish 29-1.
Buddy Collings of the Orlando Sentinel joined me Saturday to talk about the emergence of Montverde Academy as a national high school basketball powerhouse and the odds of Orlando’s Olympia High School, the No. 1 baseball team in the nation, at winning the state title this year.
Montverde Academy, led by LSU commit Ben Simmons, won its third national title in a row on Saturday. Collings also talked about how Simmons, named national player of the year by numerous organizations, lost out on the Mr. Basketball award in Florida to fellow LSU commit Antonio Blakeney of Orlando’s Oak Ridge High School.
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – When you’re the No. 1 high school baseball team in the nation, in both the USA Today and MaxPreps rankings, each game feels like so much is on the line.
Olympia won the Florida League High School Invitational on Saturday to improve to 17-0-1.
Orlando’s Olympia High School improved to 17-0-1 on the season Saturday while defending its Florida League High School Invitational title with a 2-0 win over Pembroke Pines Charter at Lake Brantley High School.
The national attention will continue to follow the Titans as they near postseason play.
“We try not to focus on that,” Olympia coach Chuck Schall said. “The rankings and all that, it’s always there, but we try not to let those expectations dictate how we play.
“Every time we win these close ballgames it just makes us tougher.”
Olympia is winning close games thanks to a stable of quality pitchers and equally impressive efforts defensively.
ORLANDO – Fans rose to their feet each time Kaká touched the ball during the Major League Soccer debuts for both the Orlando City Soccer Club and New York City FC.
But it took a little more than the length of the match for locals to get what they came to see at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
Kaká delivered a crucial goal, thanks to a lucky bounce, that evened the match after NYCFC took the lead in the 76th minute. Spain’s David Villa set up U.S. national team member Mix Diskerud for a score from the top of the box that put the visitors in front and seemingly ruined the day for the Lions.
I was introduced to Redhook Long Hammer IPA at a Daytona Cubs minor league baseball game several years back, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Pun intended.
Long Hammer is by far the favorite of the four Redhook styles I’ve tried. It’s much smoother than the typical IPA and a perfect pairing for spring-time baseball in Florida. It also goes quite well with other things in life, but not all, as explained at the bottom of a sixer I sipped through.
Tim Mitchell didn’t survive roster cuts his junior year at Orlando’s University High School. The following year he played a major role though in a successful season for the Cougars, setting the stage for where he is today. I had a chance to cover Mitchell during my time at the East Orlando Sun newspaper during the 2007-08 season. Below is an edited version of a story I wrote about him for the January 3, 2008 edition.
But first an update: Mitchell is currently finishing out his senior season at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida after helping lead the program to its first trip to the NAIA Division II tournament a year ago. Southeastern entered the postseason unseeded but finished third in the country after earning wins over No. 16 Huntington (Ind.), No. 1 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) and No. 9 Davenport (Mich.), before falling to the eventual champions, No. 5 Indiana Wesleyan, in the semis.
Mitchell led all tournament players with nine blocked shots and averaged 10 points and 10.3 rebounds in four games for a team that finished 27-7 overall. During the 2013-14 season Mitchell blocked 67 shots and shot 58 percent from the floor while averaging 13.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Southeastern is currently 15-11 overall and 9-8 in The Sun Conference.
ORLANDO, Fla. – When Tim Mitchell was unable to secure a roster spot at University High School before the start of his junior year, he had all but given up on his prep playing career.
It seemed as though the closest he’d get to a varsity basketball game would be while watching from the stands. That’s about the time reality set in for the 6-foot-7 post player as he began accounting for his own actions, or lack thereof.
Lyon provided a preview of what to expect from BHSN’s coverage while also touching on what the future may hold for National Signing Day as more and more student-athletes opt to become early enrollees at their colleges of choice.
He broke down the schools being considered by offensive lineman Martez Ivey of Apopka High School, the top college football prospect in Central Florida, and what schools running back Dexter Williams and athlete Jalen Julius are each considering. Both Williams and Julius finished their prep careers at West Orange High School in Winter Garden.
Lyon wrapped up the segment by talking about the recruiting classes of college programs throughout the state of Florida and gave a short preview of BHSN’s upcoming coverage of the boys and girls basketball postseason.
It’s not exactly a rags to riches story, but what Ohio State’s football team accomplished down the stretch this season is worthy of its “us against the world” tagline.
Hailing from the under-appreciated Big 10, the Buckeyes not only navigated the negative perceptions of its conference affiliation unbuttered, but did so after being embarrassed at home against Virginia Tech in their second game of the year.
By the end of the season Ohio State was forced to turn to the third quarterback on their roster in the conference title game against Wisconsin, a game in which they needed to win in order to be considered for the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff. The same story played out in the semifinals against Alabama, and finally in the National Championship against Oregon.